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Is the “Mobile Web” Dead?

Jamie Carracher, Sr. Manager, Web Content, Consumer Technology Association

Welcome to the era of mobile Internet. Thanks to the astounding success of devices like smartphones and tablets, more and more people are accessing the Internet wirelessly. In fact, 64 percent of U.S. households own a smartphone, according to recent CEA market research.
The impact of this mobile boom is substantial and has led mobile devices to overtake desktops. In the world of social media, for example, nearly all of the major platforms are now dominated by mobile users, from Facebook to Vine, analytics company comScore recently reported.
While the growth of mobility is undeniable, it has come with an interesting side-effect: the rise of mobile applications and the fall of “mobile Web.”
There are more than a million iOS and Android apps in their respective marketplaces. There was a time, however, when apps did not exist and users explored the Internet via mobile Web browsers. You didn’t open an app to get the weather on your phone, you went to a website. Today, 86 percent of mobile Web traffic comes through apps. And CEA’s own market research has found that 67 percent of app users enjoy using apps.
The rise of apps has some experts concerned. Chris Dixon, an investor and cofounder of SiteAdvisor, called it a “worrisome trend for the web.” John Gruber, the influential blogger, disagreed, saying “apps and websites are peers, not competitors.” The technology blog GigaOm provided an excellent analysis, providing perspectives from all sides.
Key Questions
The role of apps and the mobile Web provides fascinating fodder for technical debate. But it also raises important questions, especially if you are responsible for sales, marketing or IT within your organization.
  • Should you shift resources away from your mobile website to instead focus on mobile apps?
  • When is the right time to build a mobile app?
  • How do you handle development for multiple mobile platforms?
What’s your take?